Are you an unrecognised sleeping leader waiting to rise to the corporate summit?

In the third of four exclusive articles, David Taylor, author of best-selling management book The Naked Leader, shares the skills...

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It is time for all organisations, in all economic situations, to restore the power of hope, dreams and ambition. Achieving this depends on unleashing the natural gifts, talent and potential that your staff already have. When you do this, the results will astound you.

The next big thing is people. Our challenge is that people are waiting for the next big thing. We can choose to wait no more. Welcome to the new business age - the leadership economy, when we awaken the leaders within, and put:

  • Cause over cash
  • Clarity over confusion
  • Choice over change
  • Customers over convenience.

Cause over cash

Irony: organisations will make more cash as a result.

Your reputation is now your number one priority. It is no longer enough to be a great company without also being a good company. Your future success and existence depends on this.

Clarity over confusion

Most people have become confused over what their organisation does. It is time for radical simplicity - clear, concise and compelling actions and futures, with everyone seeing how they play a part in achieving their company's dreams.

Choice over change

Irony: organisations will at last deliver the changes they have always wanted.

Organisations do not change, people do, and no one has any true hold over anyone else.

The paradox is that the only way to control your people is to set them free. It is time to choose from within, not change from without.

Customers over convenience

Your customers are why you exist. Without them, you have no business, or organisation. They must be top of your priority list, in the eyes, minds and actions of all of your people.

Ensure your frontline staff have the power and freedom to make decisions.

In the final article next month, David Taylor will profile three chief information officer case studies

Do you have a question for David Taylor? E-mail it to [email protected]

The board: a 10-point commitment pledge

  • We are aware of our power, our role and our responsibilities to our people, to our customers, to each other and to the world. The buck stops here. To this end, we have clear roles, while encouraging each other to share ideas and thoughts on any subject
  • Trust, ethics and integrity are our highest values as a team. We place corporate and social responsibility at the very top of our agenda, and it is our stated aim to be a force for good in this world
  • Our cause is clear, and this is backed up by everything we do, and all that we are. Our point of view is also clear, concise and compelling
  • Leadership and brilliant ideas are not the exclusive domain of this board. Our role is to awaken leaders throughout our organisation
  • As board leaders, we have in place our successors, and they know who they are
  • We value and seek to encourage open and different opinions in our team and we all have equal value
  • When times are tough, we ensure decisions and communications are based on honesty, trust and integrity
  • Our board meetings are focused, we only make true decisions and outside of the boardroom we are as one on all decisions made
  • We align our personal ambitions and agendas with those of our company, and we respect and value each other at all times
  • We are a global organisation, no matter what our size or agenda: the internet has made us that. We are a force for good in the world, in performance and perception.

Key skills on the top table

Chief executive or managing director

Three key skills: presence, decision-maker, facilitator.

  • The buck stops here. The ultimate arbiter
  • Facilitator at meetings. Ensures open and active contribution by all, with balance of personalities
  • The company figure-head. The media love people and personality, not company brands. Is proactive in this area.

Customer director

Three key skills: psychology, seeing different perspectives, global visionary.

  • Encompasses both sales and marketing, as neither happens, or works, without a customer
  • Focuses on delighting existing customers so they love the company, and on attracting new customers. Put your best people in front of your customers
  • Sees the world as a customer, so makes certain that the company is a force for good.

Finance director

Three key skills: business without jargon, creativity, humility.

  • Everything financial, compliance and proper conduct.An independent third party should oversee this to ensure no conflict of interest
  • Focuses as much on opportunities as on cost saving
  • Speaks with no hype, jargon or mystery, and appreciates that finance is really as simple or as complex as we make it.Recognises every other board member as a business person first and foremost, and is frequently asked about and challenged on financial issues.

Leadership director

Three key skills: dispensability, unbreakable self-confidence, outstanding communicator.

  • Facilitates the release of the natural potential of staff at all levels
  • Ensures you have only one supplier in leadership - yourselves
  • Relates everything around human potential to real, measurable bottom-line figures and benefit.

Operations director

Three key skills: agile and fast-moving; delivers projects in days not weeks; business and financially aware, a leader of leaders.

  • Ensures that all operations work smoothly around the needs and demands of your customers
  • Responsible for what technology does, not what it is, and how it can transform the company and customer experience.Ensures technology is deployed as a driver
  • Speaks in business English and commands respect as a business person at all levels in the organisation.

Non-executive director

Three key skills: global picture, independent, dedication.

CV: David Taylor

David Taylor is a management thinker, speaker and writer whose insights are based on a 25-year track record inside firms including Rolls-Royce, Hoechst and Cornhill.

His client list spans the Fortune 500 and FTSE 200. He is a faculty member of the Young Presidents' Organisation, a visiting MBA lecturer at Imperial College, London and was voted the European Speaker of the Year 2004.

His book, The Naked Leader, was the best-selling UK business book in 2003. The Naked Leader Experience was published in 2004.

For these articles, Taylor spoke with 300 business leaders between June 2003 and December 2004.

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